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Bill_I_Am's Mysterious Puzzle

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Jigidi member Bill_I_Am created a very interesting puzzle titled "Little Planet Lookout". It can be found at

So far, nobody is certain exactly what it is the puzzle is showing us. This puzzle was created as a forum for discussion.


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Truthfully Elvis, I was just joshing you - had no idea what the photo was, other than an electron or part of a bug's eye - guess you knew that - good to keep in touch. :-)))


Hello, @Bubble

Hmmm, if you and I agree, we must be right! We're geniuses!! (Ha!)

I sometimes like quoting something my friends and I would say when we were kids. Back then, it would be a retort to an insult, but I like flipping the context now that I'm an old man.

You said "hope you're well and enjoying yourself". To that I reply: I'm rubber and you're glue. Everything you say bounces off of me and sticks onto you!


That's exactly what I thought when I looked at it Elvis - a lookout tower in Hungary, what are the odds - hope you're well and enjoying yourself - :-))


It has subsequently dawned on me that astronomers are probably not very good writers, let alone proofreaders!


Quite true, Bill. It would be nice if someone running the APOD site would proofread the submissions! On the other hand, I did have a good time trying to figure out what the photo was really showing us. I still don't know if I'm right, but it was fun anyway...


Elvis, I have also assumed that someone at NASA wrote the descriptions for the APOD featured pictures, but examples like this one have led me to question that assumption. They say at the top of each picture page:

"Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer."

Which need not imply that the astronomer is a native English speaker!



Thanks for dropping by. Since there hasn't really been much discussion about the photo to point me in a different direction, I guess I'm sticking with my theory.

I suppose I had made a supposition that APOD wrote the accompanying information. If it was the artist, you're absolutely right. English is tricky enough for native speakers, so I'll definitely cut him some slack.

No worries about the APOD link. Having learned about it from you, I have bookmarked the APOD site, and it's quite easy to find the specific photo in the archives.

I really have to thank YOU for this puzzle. I've been thinking of it as a mere adjunct to yours!


Hi @sparklightie it's nice to see you again!

For an even better look at this image, without my superimposed red-letter title, check out Bill's original puzzle:

All that technical mumbo-jumbo just boils down to this: Looking at the original photo, it is difficult to understand what the photo is showing us. I've come to the conclusion that, in essence, the picture has been photoshopped.

I'm glad you liked it, despite its convoluted history!


Elvis, I am delighted you thought so deeply about the photo! I just thought it was unusual and made a fun puzzle. I didn't try to understand so carefully as you have. Indeed, I just thought it was one of those strange 360-degree panoramas that are mind-boggling enough without any warping or compositing. Like your High Noon Analemma Over Azerbaijan:

Furthermore, I agree that the writing is rather obfuscatory. I think we have to allow that English is not Gyorgy Soponyai's native tongue. In describing the location of the south celestial pole, it would have been much clearer to just say that it would be behind us, on the other side of Earth.

Sorry, I often post a link to the APOD page when their description contains links that I think will be helpful. And sometimes I post that when the photographer has provided only an e-mail address; I won't post that. For the convenience of anyone else who takes an interest, I have added the APOD URL to the puzzle.

Even though I didn't analyze the photo to the extent you did, I puzzled (sic) over the two radii for the star trails. There should have been only one. I just put that down to the artistic element of the photo and forgot about it. But thanks for pointing me to that "Don't Panic" photo of star trails. On your suggestion, I will make a puzzle of it soon.

Thanks for the fun diversion!


WOW!! Phenomenal pic and puzzle xx details a bit technical for me but throroughly enjoyed solvong it and reading about it xx thx for posting ☺☺☺☺


Thank YOU, @PutterDutt

If you'd like to know more about this, you might want to follow the link in the write-up to see the original puzzle that Bill_I_Am created. As always, he had a good write-up. I didn't try to duplicate it, because this is really a sort of adjunct to his puzzle. Even if you don't want to solve one that big (100 pieces) the write-up and comments are worth reading.


No clue, but interesting puzzle. Thanks.


By the way, @Bill_I_Am

While I was opening those links on the APOD site, one of them led to a very interesting photo. It was the first link, associated with the words "Don't panic". That link takes you to

That's a really fantastic photo, and I thought it might be one you would like to turn into a puzzle. I wouldn't want to do it myself, because you're the one with the reputation for creating incredible photos from/about space. When someone wants a good "astropuzzle", they turn to you! Check it out and see what you think!

Also, I hope you don't mind that I've done this. I've been criticized for creating comments that are too long, and I didn't want to clutter up your puzzle with this gigantic theory of mine. If you'd rather I post comments on your puzzle, and/or take this one down, that's fine with me.


So what are we looking at? Here’s my best guess, and how I got there.

First, I went to Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) site. Bill has provided us with a great write-up, taken from the original source. However, on the APOD site, there are links embedded into that write-up. I clicked on all of them. One of the links was associated with the words "lookout tower". It sent me to the address below:,_2017_Tatab%C3%A1nya.jpg

If you follow that, you'll see exactly what it says, a lookout tower. It's made of steel, and looks to me to have elements seen in this photo. I think this is where the digital images were taken on October 31.

I then tried to read the paragraph carefully. It's certainly written in such a way that its meaning is obscure. But here's what I took from it. The photos of the lookout tower were taken from below, or at least from somewhere on the structure looking upward. The photos of the stars were also taken with the camera pointing upward (not toward the horizon), thus the description of them being "nadir centered”. The viewer is at the nadir, or opposite of the zenith, and is therefore looking directly overhead. Polaris, or the North Star, is hidden by the tower, but would be at the center of the "circle" of star tracks on the left-hand side, just below the midpoint as you measure vertically. That's the "north celestial pole”. When the write-up talks about the south celestial pole, what they're really saying is that it's on the other side of the planet, directly opposite the north celestial pole. - "below the little planet's horizon". It's confusing that they talk about it in this way, because it wouldn't really make much sense if you were just having a conversation with someone and s/he used that verbiage. That's compounded by the fact that they're talking about something that's not even in the photo.

The other important thing to note is that this image is called "a digitally warped and stitched, nadir centered mosaic of images". "Digital" is easy enough, and we've already talked a little about "nadir centered". So that leaves us with "warped" "stitched" and "mosaic". Taking those in reverse order, "mosaic" indicates that it resembles the art form that is made of small tiles arranged in such a way to make a pattern. "Stitched" means they have taken multiple photos and connected them to appear as a single image. So those two words tell us this is not simply a long-exposure photo presented exactly as it was taken. It has been combined with other photos to make the pattern the artist envisioned. Finally, we have "warped". What we're seeing is not as it appears. So the lookout tower doesn't look like the one in the link I provided. I think that’s because everything has been curved, and stretched to the point that it’s hard to recognize. That’s also true of the long-exposure photos of the stars. They haven’t been altered so much to be unrecognizable. The north celestial pole still has stars circling around it. But as you move toward the right-hand side of the photo, the image has been warped enough that the tracks of the stars across our night sky make no sense.

To put it all together, I think this is a composite of a number of digital photos that were taken at a lookout tower in Hungary. All of the photos were taken with the camera aimed directly overhead, and the photos of the stars were given 75-second exposures. All of the images were then warped and put together in an artistic manner. The artist, Gyorgy Soponyai, created the image in such a way that it looks ALMOST like something we could actually see, but that doesn’t quite make logical sense if taken to be an untouched photo. Finally, the write-up from APOD was opaque enough that it easily caused confusion.

That’s my take. What do you think?